In­ven­tions by, for pet own­ers show­cased

The China Post - - FEATURE - BY SUE MAN­NING

Joanna Rein knew there was a way to pre­vent her ram­bunc­tious Labrador-col­lie mix from track­ing in mud, wa­ter and drool from the soggy out­doors.

“The kids thought it was funny. They’d chase the dog,” said Rein, of Larch­mont, New York. “I’d run be­hind them all with tow­els. Buddy thought it was a game.”

She used her dirty floors to her ad­van­tage, cre­at­ing a line of dog-dry­ing door­mats and spe­cial tow­els called Soggy Doggy.

With peo­ple putting more money into prod­ucts for pets — whether for pam­per­ing, aid­ing ag­ing an­i­mals or just keep­ing the house clean — some en­tre­pre­neur­ial own­ers in­vented their own help­ful de­vices and turned them into mul­ti­mil­lion-U.S.-dol­lar ven­tures, in­clud­ing Rein.

“Most of the small com­pa­nies that en­ter the in­dus­try do it be­cause they have a pet and iden­ti­fied a need that wasn’t be­ing ad­dressed,” said An­drew Dar­mohraj, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Pet Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion.

Smaller com­pa­nies make up more than half of the group’s mem­ber­ship and are the core of the in­dus­try ex­pected to ac­count for more than US$42 bil­lion in U.S. spend­ing this year, he said.

Here are some pop­u­lar pet-owner in­ven­tions:

Soggy Doggy

Rein started her prod­uct line by try­ing to make her own door­mat to soak up the slop when Buddy got drenched in rain or rolled around in the mud.

She paid a tai­lor to sew hun­dreds of or­ange shammy cloths over a thin layer of foam, put it at the back door and waited for her dog.

“He took one look and jumped over it,” she said. “He would not step on it, wouldn’t go near it.”

Then, Rein found mi­crofiber sham­mies made with para­chute ny­lon, which her dog didn’t mind stop­ping on for a shake.

Her busi­ness got her break when rain and snow started in Novem­ber 2010 and seem­ingly didn’t stop un­til the next June. She sold the mats from her car trunk but ran out of them in weeks, while more or­ders came in.

Since then, she’s sold hun­dreds of thou­sands of mats and cre­ated “sl­op­mats,” which sop up slob­ber and wa­ter un­der dog bowls, and “Slob­ber Swab­bers,” a han­dled fab­ric brush that col­lects drool from pets’ faces or from win­dows and car seats.

Groom Ge­nie

Rikki Mor of Den­ver con­verted her hair de­tan­gler for kids into a pop­u­lar pet brush.

Shaped like a dog paw, the Groom Ge­nie works on long or short coats and spreads nat­u­ral oils through the fur, she said.

“It’s turned my life up­side down in ways I never ex­pected,” Mor said. “I love that it’s tested on hu­mans and good enough for pets.”

It emerged from the Knot Ge­nie, a mil­lion-dol­lar online em­pire started six years ago and inspired by her three long­haired daugh­ters.

Mor promised them to try to end the daily de­tan­gling night­mare that al­ways ended with tears. She met with con­sul­tants and ran tests.

She elim­i­nated the balls on the end of bris­tles and re­shaped the bris­tles and base, which elim­i­nated pain.

Mor got ap­pre­cia­tive letters from par­ents, then re­ceived notes from pet own­ers say­ing the brushes calmed their dogs and cats.

Pup Pot

The bright-or­ange prod­ucts to make, serve and store meals for dogs emerged from the pup-cen­tric minds of Kris Ro­tonda and Denise Fer­nan­dez, cre­ators of online dat­ing ser­vice YouMustLoveDogsDat­ing.com.

Af­ter launch­ing the match­mak­ing site in 2013, they started the Doggy Cook­ing Net­work on YouTube last year.

Their Pup Pot line comes with a 3.6-liters stain­less steel cook­ing pot, a paw-shaped serv­ing base, and two serv­ing and stor­age bowls that are mi­crowave-safe. As a bonus, there’s an e-book of the cou­ple’s fa­vorite recipes.

Ro­tonda hopes the first or­der of 5,000 Pup Pots will go on sale by month’s end.

AP

(Top) In this June 2 photo pro­vided by Jen­nifer Roark McCants, Denise Fer­nan­dez poses for a photo at the Safety Har­bor, Florida home she shares with Kris Ro­tondo and four dogs, in­clud­ing Kobe, pic­tured with her. (Above) In this May 14 photo pro­vided by Brad Webb, an em­ployee at the Cap­i­tal Area Hu­mane So­ci­ety in Colum­bus, Ohio, brushes Huck with a royal blue Groom Ge­nie that Rikki Mor of Den­ver do­nated to the shel­ter.

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